Written by Steph, Trainer

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Hi, my name is Steph, and I am in the Training team at The Cellar Trust – currently training the West Yorkshire Police – so it is rare that I get to see many of you, and so I was very excited to be asked to write a blog for you all at Christmas, and I get to share with you what Christmas means to me.

All our Christmas’s look very different, don’t they? We have different family traditions-we eat varying versions of a Christmas dinner – open presents at different times – decorate our houses differently. Or we don’t celebrate Christmas at all as a religious festival and use it as special time with family.

Of course, amongst it we all also have different experiences of Christmas- for some it’s fun, others it brings hard memories – or it reminds us of those we have lost all too painfully. For others it can be a lonely time and a very hard season to ‘get through’.

For me, Christmas has always been about Light, Peace and Joy and Hope, family and friends.

I do believe in the real reason for Christmas – and the person central to this is Jesus. The Bible says he is the ‘Light of The World’ whoever follows me, will not walk in darkness but will have the Light of Life!

There are some famous verses in the Bible predicting his coming birth For To us a child is born, a son is given, and he shall be called The Wonderful Counsellor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, and The Prince Of Peace.

When we are in a world today which is full of darkness, war, poverty, distress we need some light to shine though that gives us hope for the future. Have you ever noticed – the darker it is, the brighter a light shines?

It also says he is the Prince of Peace, and when there is so much turmoil around, having that Peace to anchor into can make all the difference. For me it helps even with my own mental health. I feel like there is a quiet strength and peace in my spirit, knowing that Jesus always brings hope for the future and that he is with me even when it’s difficult.

My hope and prayer for this season is that I share this light and shine brightly to bring a little ray of light and hope to all those who need it. Whether that is giving to charity, visiting someone, sharing hope, a smile, a gift of appreciation for people’s tireless work all year round. There are so many different initiatives out there where we can join in with, bringing light into someone’s darkness.
We know that we cannot do everything- and feel so helpless in such a hard world that we have no control over, for this we can only pray for peace. It may seem too vast, overwhelming and hopeless. But if we all can just share some hope and light with someone in their darkness- we can make such a difference.

To end with – my favourite Christmas Carol is O Holy Night. Not only is it beautifully written – the words bring hope and light.

‘A thrill of hope – the weary world rejoices’

And then

‘Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is Love and His gospel is Peace; Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, and in his name all oppression shall cease, Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we; Let all within us praise his Holy name!’

Have a listen – think about spreading a little light, hope and joy whether you celebrate Jesus’ birth or not – we can all do that.

I pray that you also know peace, light, and hope amongst the busyness of this season.

Kerrie Roberts Performing her version of “O Holy Night” from the Essential Christmas Collection.

World Menopause Day

World Menopause Day Blog

This can’t be menopause… can it?

Written by Sarah, Volunteer at The Cellar Trust

If you’re anything like me, a night in with your best friend, your ride or die, is one of the best forms of therapy. I’ve made some of the best decisions of my life sitting on my best mate’s sofa, in my PJs, braless, waiting for my face mask to set. If this was ‘adulting’ bring it on.

We met on our first day at high school and from that moment on we supported each other through all of life’s ‘firsts’. First kiss, first job, first baby, as well as some of the worst hangovers known to mankind. And here we were, nearly 30 years later comparing the battle scars over our favourite bottle of wine and a bar of fruit and nut. I was blessed.
But I’ll never forget one girl’s night, when I was 39 and my friend mentioned the ‘M’ word for the first time. As with all our other ‘firsts’, it is seared into my memory. We were talking about our health – how we’d both been feeling rubbish for a few months and then she said it…. MENOPAUSE.

I nearly choked on my Pinot Grigio. What? What was that? You think it might be menopause?! In my head I’m thinking ‘This is so typical of her… always wants to be first at everything’.
“Yes” she said. “I’ve had some blood tests, my GP eliminated any other causes, so its most likely my symptoms are due to perimenopause”. I went quiet, I honestly didn’t know what to say. Wow…. menopause…. But we’re not even 40 yet!

Whilst my friend regaled me with different types of HRT, I reflected on my own health. Ok so I’ve been feeling anxious more than usual, my energy has dipped, and I’ve had 3 UTIs in 3 months…. but it can’t be menopause because my periods are regular as clockwork, I’ve never had a single hot flush in my life and I’m probably tired because work is so busy. I thought back to how my mum was when she was my age. She never ever spoke about menopause, and I don’t remember her complaining about any crazy symptoms. So, feeling smug I finished the rest of the fruit and nut and told myself that menopause only happens to other people – it clearly doesn’t run in my family. Anyway, I’m far too busy for such nonsense, I’ve got a project deadline coming up and the spare room needs re-decorating.

Fast forward to my mid 40s and those very same symptoms had not only intensified but they had multiplied and unbelievably, the spare room still hadn’t been re-decorated. My superhuman ability to perfectly manage every aspect of life was fading and I couldn’t figure out what my kryptonite was.

My UTIs were now so painful and so frequent that my social life and sex life had ground to a halt. Anxiety was through the roof. My mood oscillated from crying in the car on the way to work, to incandescent rage by home time. My sense of smell was distorted (glue fumes followed me everywhere). My eyes were so dry I couldn’t wear my contact lenses anymore and don’t even get me started on the insomnia. I had watched so much sign-language TV at 3am that I could add ‘fluent in BSL’ to my LinkedIn profile.

But I really suffered at work. My ability to focus, organise, assess and make decisions had become so impeded that I dreaded my own performance reviews. My sick leave was embarrassing and even when I managed to drag myself into work I just felt as if I was in a fuzzy daze. I didn’t know how to explain my symptoms to people. I felt like I was making excuses all the time, so instead I gradually withdrew from everyone until finally at 47, I made the decision to resign from my hard earned, well paid, career. I didn’t like adulting anymore.

My 40s were a bewildering and sharp contrast to the days of my 30s, when I seemed to excel in all areas of life, effortlessly juggling home, work and social demands.
Could my symptoms really be menopause? Once again, I reviewed the facts; at 48 my menstrual cycle was as regular as ever, no hint of a hot flush or night sweat, no hairy upper lip and not a single varicose vein. That’s what I thought menopause was thanks to growing up in the 80s and 90s. That era really did a number on Generation X. Prolific sexist jokes about women in the media and in the comedy clubs (thanks a lot Chubby Brown). The last die-hard misogynists were still in the workplace refusing to retire. Outdated HR policies made menopausal women feel like an inconvenience to the workforce and the misleading health advice that HRT causes cancer left women with zero medical support. No wonder our own mothers were too confused and embarrassed to ever mention it to anyone.

Ironically it was a 25-year-old male physiotherapist who finally jolted me out of my stupor during a physio appointment for a bad case of tennis elbow (yet another meno related issue). He casually mentioned that this kind of injury happens a lot to women ‘of my age’ due to decreasing estrogen. I couldn’t believe it. No way. So, menopause really was my kryptonite this whole time and it turns out its so much more than just swapping tampons for Tenna Ladys’.

At first, I was fuming. Why hadn’t my GP ever mentioned menopause? Where was the information and awareness? And then that silent haka, the one which most women whisper every day, manifested itself in my heart; “Fine. I’ll do it myself”.
My war cry turned into a two-year mission to find out all I could about menopause. I wanted knowledge, support, treatment options and results. And that’s exactly what happened.

With the help of some very inspiring colleagues, I launched The Cellar Trust Menopause Support Group where I found unconditional acceptance, fellowship, no judgement and LOTS of information and awareness. Now at the grand age of 50 I have never been more in tune with my hormones, my reproductive system (yes, I’m still having periods) and my mental health. Awareness is empowering. I have a fresh appreciation of the unique miracles my body performs every day to help me thrive and it will continue to do so, as long as I give it the right support. It’s a symbiotic partnership. My body is not my enemy, and it never was.

Yes, menopause has its dramatic headlines like painful sex and hair loss. But there are other, less talked about symptoms to be aware of. Things like repeat UTIs or bladder inflammation, phantosmia (smelling things which aren’t really there), tendonitis (e.g. tennis elbow), dry/itchy eyes, dry mouth, nose bleeds, cold flushes, brain fog and intense feelings of ‘losing your mind’ (you are not, I promise!), dizziness and changes in body odour. Don’t discount these concerns if you notice them. This is your body gently warning you that your estrogen levels are dropping and it’s time to do something about it.

I’m so inspired by women all over the country who are speaking up, loudly, for better treatment options, increased awareness, focused workplace support and the right to express ourselves without discrimination. Think of all that we can achieve if we keep talking about it. You’ve all made such an impact on my life, and I can’t thank you enough. Without you I would never have got the spare room redecorated.

The Cellar Trust Menopause Support Group

If you have been affected by any of the symptoms mentioned here or any other issues related to menopause please join The Cellar Trust Menopause Support Group, where you will receive a warm welcome, plenty of support and lots of information.
Meetings are online, on the first Thursday or every month at 12pm-1pm and 7pm-8pm. Open to all, regardless of gender.
Please email to register.

Other local services

You can access support for stress and anxiety from Bradford and Craven Talking Therapies – a free and confidential NHS:

Find mental health and well-being support that suits you from Healthy Minds directory which covers Bradford, Airedale, Wharfdale and Craven:


A £3m health and wellbeing investment is announced for Shipley

A £3m health and well-being investment is announced for Shipley

A new project with a focus on Health, Well-being and Community has been given the go-ahead in Shipley, with the signing of a £3m funding agreement.

The investment from the Shipley Towns Fund will transform The Old School building on Farfield Road, currently owned by mental health charity, The Cellar Trust, with plans for full refurbishment including landscaping in the grounds to create a well-being garden which will be accessible to the public.

The new facility will continue to be run by well-established founding member charity, The Cellar Trust alongside strategic charity partner HALE, also based in Shipley. Its mission will be to provide health and well-being services by working with a range of organisations from the voluntary sector, public sector and social enterprise in one inclusive, welcoming and accessible place.

The Cellar Trust CEO Kim Shutler said: “We have an established track record for successfully delivering specialist mental health support. We already work in partnership with many organisations across the district, we’re excited for this new opportunity to create even more partnership opportunities and to support smaller grass roots organisations, who may not easily have access to such facilities, all with the aim of supporting more people across Shipley, especially those who are vulnerable and lonely. We’ll be making good use of the improved facilities with the access to green space and the opportunity for classes and activities. This is a fantastic boost for the people of Shipley.”

Services will be available for the whole community and will particularly focus on supporting vulnerable people. There will be large rooms for groups and events, smaller activity rooms, consulting rooms for clinical and non-clinical interventions as well as a multi-faith and contemplation space.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “The new community development will deliver improved access to mental and physical health services and will support the well-being of our community. It will be an invaluable facility offering increased classes, activities and events as well as meeting spaces.”

Chairman of Shipley Towns Fund Adam Clerkin added: “We are pleased to support this incredible project, which will change people’s lives. It will provide a wide range of integrated support services, delivered by a skilled workforce and a team of volunteers who are trained in engaging, assessing, motivating and giving people the tools to improve their health and well-being.”

Office and co-working space has been set aside for health and well-being providers and social enterprises. The atrium entrance space and welcome area will include an informal seating area and open-access cafe as well as IT facilities.

The space will be accessible to all, and will provide a range of services for all ages.